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The Nature of Reality

Ten Lessons from the Standard Model

6 Jan 2014, 22:31 UTC
Ten Lessons from the Standard Model
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The most recent Nobel Prize in physics, awarded to Francois Englert and Peter Higgs for the prediction of the Higgs boson, marks the apotheosis of the Standard Model in two ways. First, the Higgs particle is a milestone in itself: It is the last ingredient required to complete the Standard Model. But second, and more profoundly, the discovery process bore witness to the extraordinary power of the Standard Model. Higgs particles are rare and fleeting visitors to our world. Even at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), where the discovery was made, they are produced in less than a billionth of all collisions. When they are produced, they quickly decay, leaving behind just a few extra tracks among hundreds of others from more conventional sources. It is only because physicists can so reliably predict such “backgrounds,” as well as the rate of Higgs particle production and the modes of its decay, that the discovery experiments could be planned and their results interpreted.
After this crowning triumph it seems appropriate to reflect on the big picture. What does the Standard Model teach us? What does it mean?
To answer that, I've adopted the List of Ten format pioneered by God and copied ...

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